The Harper government's latest surprise attack on democracy:
- Fails to give the Commissioner of Elections the authority to compel witnesses to give evidence. Commissioner Yves Cote has said that his inability to legally compel witnesses was hampering the investigation of more than 1,400 complaints about false or misleading telephone calls to electors in the 2011 election.
- Denies election officials the investigative power to compel political parties and their riding associations to provide financial documentation to support their financial returns.
- Fails to hold political parties to account for the authorized use of its data base by those who have access to it.
- Requires the Commissioner to inform a politician in writing if they are to be investigated for a breach of election laws, a statutory heads-up not provided to anyone else in broader society.
- Muzzles the Chief Electoral Officer from making allegations of electoral fraud public.
- Shifts the appointment of the Commissioner of Elections from the Chief Electoral Officer to a federal civil servant.
- Raises the limits on political donations by 25 per cent, from $1200 to $1500. This benefits the Conservative party who have more big donors who give the maximum amount.
- Increases the election-spending limits for each party by 5 per cent, which was about $21 million in the last election.
- Stops voters from using the voter card sent out by Elections Canada as valid ID. This could mean that some Indigenous people, young people, seniors, homeless, even those without a drivers licence, may not be able to exercise their right to vote.
- Forbids Elections Canada from launching ad campaigns to encourage people to vote.
“The Unfair Elections Act aims to suppress the vote of groups that may not vote Conservative including students, Indigenous people, seniors, and people on low-incomes by eliminating the vouching system,” said Jessica McCormick, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “The Chief Electoral Officer should be given more scope, not less, to encourage Canadians to vote. Dropping voting rates are not an excuse to strip the office of this function –- it’s a reason to bolster this role.”